Exploring the Diversity: A Comprehensive Guide to Types of Doorknobs

Key Takeaway

  • Choosing the right doorknob involves considering both functionality and personal preferences, ensuring it complements the overall interior design while meeting specific requirements for security, privacy, and ease of use.
  • Passage doorknobs are used for interior doors without locks, while privacy doorknobs provide security for rooms like bathrooms and bedrooms. 
  • Dummy doorknobs are non-functional and used for decorative purposes, and lever doorknobs are accessible and easier to operate
  • Keyed entry doorknobs offer both privacy and security, requiring a key for external access. On the other hand, electronic or smart doorknobs incorporate advanced features like keyless entry and remote access. 
  • Additional considerations for selecting doorknobs include the shape (round, oval, square, rectangular, lever handle, or custom-shaped), material (metal, wood, glass/crystal, ceramic, plastic/acrylic), and style (traditional, contemporary, vintage/antique, decorative/ornate, minimalist/sleek).

My wife and daughters embarked on their journey to our homeland in Asia almost a fortnight ago. While they were gone, I had time to tackle long-awaited home improvement projects. As a result, I would often roam through the aisles of Lowes and Home Depot

During these visits, I was captivated by the vast array of doorknobs and decided to write an article about them. So here I am, with a keyboard as my accomplice, ready to embark on a fascinating journey through the realm of doorknobs. In this article, I aim to explore some of the most common types of doorknobs based on their functionality, material, size, shapes and their style.

Different Types Of Door Knobs (Based On Functionality)

When it comes to door knobs, they serve as more than just a means to open and close doors. They come in a variety of types, each with its unique functionality. Whether you’re looking for ease of use, enhanced security, or specific features, there’s a doorknob out there to meet your requirements. 

Here are various types of door knobs, focusing on their functionality and how they can improve your daily interactions with doors. 

a. Basic Passage Knobs (For Non-Locking Door)

Basic Passage Knobs

Passage knobs are the go-to knobs for doors that don’t require any locking mechanism. They’re simple, straightforward, and perfect for rooms like living rooms, hallways, or closets where privacy isn’t a big concern. I have these knobs installed on my living room and kitchen doors.

With passage knobs, you only need to twist or turn the knob to open and close the door. Since they don’t lock the door, no keys or locking mechanisms are involved. But keep in mind that since these knobs don’t have a lock, they might not be the best choice for rooms where privacy is essential.

Installation is usually a breeze too. You’ll find that most passage knobs come as a complete set, including the knob, latch, strike plate, and screws. All you need is a screwdriver and a little bit of patience to get it installed and ready to go.

When it comes to styles and designs, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wide variety available. From sleek and modern to more traditional or decorative options, you can find a passage knob that fits your personal taste and complements your home decor.

b. Privacy knobs (With A Lock For Bathrooms Or Bedrooms)

Privacy knobs

Privacy doorknobs are a special type of door knob designed for rooms that require privacy, such as bathrooms, bedrooms, or home offices. All the bedrooms and bathrooms of my home have these locks installed. 

They have a built-in locking mechanism that lets you lock the door from the inside, ensuring privacy and preventing unwanted interruptions. 

Here’s how they work: 

On the inside of the door, you’ll find a small button or twist mechanism that you can engage to lock the door. You simply turn or press that locking mechanism when you’re inside the room, and the door is securely locked from the inside, preventing anyone from coming in without your permission.

Now, it’s important to note that privacy door knobs typically don’t require a key to lock or unlock them. This means you don’t have to worry about misplacing or carrying an extra key. But how do you unlock the door from the outside in case of an emergency or when you’re done using the room? Well, privacy door knobs have a little hole or slot on the outside, usually in the shape of a tiny pinhole or a small slot that can be unlocked with a tool like a small pin or a coin. This allows you to unlock the door and gain access from the outside when needed.

c. Dummy Knobs (For Decorative Purposes)

Dummy Knobs

Dummy knobs are the decorative darlings of the door knob world. These little beauties may look like regular door knobs, but let me tell you, they’re all about style and no function. 

You’ll often find them adorning things like cabinet doors, closet doors, or even non-functioning doors where you want to maintain a consistent look throughout your space. They are mounted on the surface of a door and are not designed to turn or latch.

Installing dummy knobs is a breeze too! They typically come as a pair, with one knob for each side of the door. You simply attach them to the surface of the door using screws or other mounting hardware. No need to worry about complicated mechanisms or locks. It’s all about that visual appeal!

d. Keyed Knobs (Requiring A key For Locking/Unlocking)

Keyed Knobs

Keyed knobs are the gatekeepers of security! These knobs are about keeping your doors locked tight and granting access only to those possessing the key.

Keyed knobs have a unique locking mechanism that sets them apart from other types of door knobs. When you want to lock or unlock the door, you simply insert the key into the keyhole located on the knob and turn it. Turning the key in one direction engages the lock, securing the door, while turning it in the other direction disengages it, allowing you to open and close the door freely.

One common type of locking mechanism in keyed knobs is the pin tumbler lock. This type of lock consists of a series of pins of different lengths inside the knob. The key has grooves corresponding to each pin’s length, and when you insert the key and turn it, the pins are lifted to the correct height, allowing the lock to turn and the door to open.

Another type of locking mechanism is the wafer tumbler lock, which uses thin wafers instead of pins to unlock the door. The key has grooves that correspond to the location of the wafers, allowing the wafers to be lifted and unlocking the door.

Keyed knobs are commonly used on exterior doors, such as the front door or the door leading to your backyard, but they are also very useful if you live in a high-crime area and wish to add an added layer of security.

e. Electronic Or Smart Knobs (Keyless Entry, Biometric, Etc.)

Electronic Or Smart Knobs

Ah, electronic or smart knobs are the modern marvels of doorknob technology!

These knobs are equipped with electronic components that offer keyless entry and a range of convenient features. They bring the power of technology right to your doorstep, quite literally! While they may require a bit of setup and configuration, the benefits they provide are well worth it. 

Let’s delve into some of the exciting features you can find in electronic or smart knobs:

  • Keyless entry: With electronic knobs, you can unlock your door using various methods, such as PIN codes, access cards, or even smartphone apps. No more searching through your bag for keys – simply enter your code, swipe your card, or use your phone to unlock the door effortlessly.
  • Biometric authentication: Some smart knobs take security to the next level with biometric authentication. These knobs can recognize your unique fingerprints or even scan your retinas to ensure that only authorized individuals can access your home. 
  • Remote access and control: Forgot to lock the door before leaving? No problem! Many smart knobs allow you to remotely lock or unlock your door using your smartphone or a connected device. You can also grant temporary access to guests or service providers, all with a few taps on your phone.
  • Integration with smart home systems: Smart knobs can seamlessly integrate with other smart devices in your home, such as smart locks, security systems, or voice assistants. You can control your door with voice commands or set up routines to automatically lock or unlock the door when you arrive or leave.
  • Activity monitoring and notifications: Smart knobs often come equipped with sensors and activity monitoring capabilities. They can track when the door is locked or unlocked, send you notifications when someone enters or leaves, and even provide logs of access events. It’s like having a personal doorman informing you about who’s coming and going.

Some Other Criteria To Distinguish Doorknobs

When it comes to buying a doorknob, functionality is undoubtedly a key consideration. However, there’s more to it than just functionality. In this section, we’ll distinguish doorknobs on some more factors.

1. Shape

A round boring ball in metallic finish. I am sure this comes to your mind when you think of a doorknob. But door knobs come in many more shapes.

  • Round knobs: Round knobs are one of the most common and traditional shapes for door knobs. They have a circular design and are easy to grasp from any angle.
    Round knobs
  • Oval knobs: Oval knobs have an elongated shape, providing a unique and elegant look. They offer a comfortable grip and are often used in more sophisticated or vintage-style interiors.
    Oval knobs
  • Square knobs: Square knobs have a square or rectangular shape, offering a sleek and modern appearance. They can add a contemporary touch to doors and are popular in minimalist or contemporary design settings.
    Square knobs
  • Lever handle door knobs: Lever handle door knobs have a different shape than traditional knobs. They feature a lever that is either pushed down or pulled up to operate the latch mechanism. Lever handle knobs are ergonomic, making them easier for people with limited hand strength or mobility.
    Lever handle door knobs
  • Irregular or custom-shaped knobs: These knobs come in various unconventional shapes, such as asymmetrical or geometric designs. They allow for creative customization, adding a unique and artistic touch to doors.
    Irregular or custom-shaped knobs

2. Material

The material of the doorknob is also varied. There is something for everyone in the world of doorknobs.

  • Metal knobs: Metal knobs are popular due to their durability and versatility. They come in various metals, such as brass, stainless steel, and iron. Metal knobs can complement traditional and modern design styles, depending on the finish and detailing.
    Metal knobs
  • Wooden knobs: Wooden knobs provide a warm and natural look to doors. They are available in different wood types, finishes, and stains, allowing for customization to match the interior decor. Wooden knobs are commonly used in rustic, farmhouse, or traditional-style homes.
    Wooden  knobs
  • Glass or crystal knobs: Glass or crystal knobs add a touch of elegance and sophistication to doors. They are often translucent or transparent and create a beautiful play of light. Glass or crystal knobs are popular for vintage or antique-inspired designs.
    Glass or Crystal knobs
  • Ceramic knobs: Ceramic knobs offer a charming and decorative element to doors. They come in various colors, patterns, and designs, allowing for a personalized touch. Ceramic knobs are often used in kitchens, bathrooms, or bohemian-style interiors.
    Ceramic knobs
  • Plastic or acrylic knobs: Plastic or acrylic knobs are affordable and lightweight. They are available in various colors and can be shaped into different designs. Plastic or acrylic knobs are commonly used in children’s rooms, playrooms, or areas where durability and cost-effectiveness are prioritized.
    Plastic or acrylic knobs

3. Style

Depending upon the interiors of your home, there are different styles of doorknobs to choose from. My house has a bit of an Asian touch to it, so my doors have a bit of decorative doorknobs.

  • Traditional or classic knobs: If you’re looking for a classic and timeless look, traditional or classic knobs are a great option. They often feature curved or rounded shapes and intricate detailing and are commonly made from brass or other classic materials. Traditional knobs are popular in homes with a traditional or vintage aesthetic.
    Traditional or classic knobs
  • Contemporary or modern knobs: If you prefer a more modern and minimalist aesthetic, contemporary or modern knobs may be more your style. They often feature geometric shapes, such as squares or rectangles, and can be made from various materials, including stainless steel or chrome. Contemporary knobs are commonly found in modern or minimalist interior designs.
    Contemporary or modern knobs
  • Vintage or antique knobs: For those who appreciate vintage or antique designs, there are plenty of options for vintage or antique dummy door knobs that have intricate detailing and unique shapes and are typically made from materials like porcelain or glass, or aged brass. Vintage or antique door knobs are inspired by designs from previous eras, such as Victorian, Art Deco, or Colonial styles, adding nostalgia and charm to doors.
    Vintage or antique knobs
  • Decorative or ornate knobs: Decorative door knobs are designed to make a statement. They often have elaborate patterns, motifs, or engravings, which can include floral designs, filigree work, or other intricate details. These knobs serve as eye-catching focal points and are suitable for doors where aesthetics and visual impact are prioritized.
    Decorative or ornate knobs

It’s important to note that these style categories are not mutually exclusive, and overlaps or variations can exist within each category.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I upgrade a traditional doorknob to a smart knob?

Answer – Yes, it’s possible to upgrade a traditional doorknob to a smart knob. However, compatibility and installation requirements may vary, so it’s recommended to check the specifications and instructions provided by the manufacturer.

2. What is a microbial protection door knob? How does it works?

Answer – A microbial protection door knob is a specialized type of doorknob that incorporates antimicrobial properties to inhibit the growth and spread of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Microbial protection in door knobs is typically achieved through the use of antimicrobial coatings or materials. These coatings or materials contain agents that have the ability to suppress the growth and reproduction of microorganisms, reducing the risk of surface contamination and potential transmission of harmful pathogens.


Doorknobs are an essential component of any door, and they come in various shapes and sizes to cater to different needs and preferences. There is a doorknob for every type of door and user, from traditional round knobs to lever handles, thumb turns, and keyless options. It’s essential to choose the right doorknob for your specific needs, taking into account factors such as ease of use, security, and aesthetic appeal. With the right doorknob, you can add a touch of style and convenience to your home while ensuring the safety and security of your family.

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Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.